MORGANTOWN — Wednesday morning marked a big day for 11 local student-athletes who signed their letters of intent to continue an academic and athletic career at the collegiate level.
Eleven student-athletes from both Morgantown and University High Schools committed themselves to their chosen collegiate programs — four from UHS and seven from MHS.
The Hawks honored three members from the football team, Jaeden Hammack, Landon Cool and Jake Stevens, and one from the baseball team, Cody Thomas.
Hammack committed to walk-on to the football team at his hometown WVU. He will line up at wideout for head coach Neal Brown after originally committing to play at the FCS level. Hammack said believing in himself and being home made the difference for him when it came to changing his commitment.
“I will be at home and I’m betting on myself,” he said after signing. “I’m taking advantage of an opportunity that’s been put in front of me and I know what I have the ability to do on the field.”
The UHS all-stater says it was around December when the Mountaineers showed more interest.
“The facilities there are some of, if not the best, in the country and it’s where I want to be,” Hammack said. “If anyone knows coach Neal Brown, he is very real and will tell you what you need to hear and not what you want to hear. I have been wearing a Mountaineer jersey since I was 3-years-old and going to every game since I was a little kid. This is everything I wanted it to be.”
Cool and Stevens will both make the short trip north to Waynesburg to play close to home. Each cited the home feel of the campus and the program itself.
Stevens, who will play linebacker, said he switched over to linebacker at UHS this season for the first time in his career. He previously played center. Cool will line up at defensive back.
Thomas will follow former UHS third baseman Aaron Forbes to Salem University, rejoining his right-hand man in the infield at shortstop. The UHS and Morgantown Post 2 infielder said the culture was something he liked.
“Being near home helps, and the culture they’re building there is something I really liked,” Thomas said. “Listening to my coaches and staying locked in really helped me take it to the next level.”
Across town at MHS, seven athletes signed their letters, Robin Anderson (WVU), Paige Brock (Murray State), Cam Danser (West Virginia Tech), Brody Davis (Shepherd), Keonn Mallett (Mercyhurst), Broderick Washington (Mercyhurst) and Amelia Summers (Elon).
Mallett and Washington will go together to Mercyhurst to play football, with a pair of Mohigan basketball players also committing, but not to the same school. State champions Danser and Davis will both play in-state at the Division II level. Davis will play at Shepherd and Danser at WVU Tech.
Each credited a lot to their time at MHS with coach Dave Tallman and the staff, along with the school as a whole.
“The process was long but it was very worth it. I’m happy that this moment is finally happening,” Danser said. “What they’ve built at Tech is something I want to be a part of on and off the court, so that is what really caught my attention.”
For Davis, being able to play against quality competition, especially in state, at the D-II level drew his attention.
“The MEC is one of the best conferences in D-II and the PSAC also, so being able to play against those programs is amazing,” Davis said. “Most of the teams are some of the top teams in the entire nation, and they’re in the state. That’s going to only help my game more and push me harder.”
Brock will head to the D-I level to play volleyball at Murray State. An all-state selection last year, Brock says she began really digging in around the time she was in eighth grade.
“I started training in Pittsburgh in eighth grade, which really helped with the coaching being a different level up there. I knew I wanted to play in the state of Kentucky and knew I wanted to attend a mid-major-sized school,” she said. “The coaches and players at Murray State were perfect and I love the campus. I knew it’s where I wanted when I visited.”
Another state champion, not to be forgotten, was Robin Anderson, who recently won a state hockey title with the Morgantown Mohawks. Anderson will be playing for WVU’s women’s team and is excited to be able to play the sport she’s loved for so long at the collegiate level.
“I had my first pair of skates before I had my first pair of shoes,” Anderson laughed. “I have always wanted to play ice hockey after high school and I always wanted to play for WVU. My dad played hockey here also so that’s something I’m excited to continue on.”
Rounding out the day was another Mohigan champion in cross-country and track runner Amelia Summers, who committed to run in both track and XC at Elon University. Summers originally thought she would commit to playing basketball at MHS but then decided to stick with running, eventually earning herself a scholarship to run in college.
“When I went on my official visit I was skeptical at first that I wouldn’t like Elon,” she said. “But as soon as I got there I fell in love with it. The campus is great and I enjoyed the coaches and runners that are there now. I wouldn’t be here without all of my teammates. They’ve helped me on days when I didn’t want to run or when I wasn’t motivated. My brother is also a runner and he’s helped me along also.”
TWEET – @ahhh_griff @dompostsports